How to make your own compost

What is compost?

Compost is a garden fertiliser that you can make yourself by using vegetable material and other garden waste. Starting a compost bin or heap is an excellent way to reduce the food waste in your household while enriching your garden at the same time.

How do you make compost?

Collect these items from your kitchen and garden:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee ground and filters
  • Paper (except glossy and colourful paper)
  • Tea bags
  • Bread
  • Egg
  • Nutshells
  • Flour
  • Sawdust
  • Plants
  • Leaves
  • Potting soil

A compost bin isn’t necessary if you don’t have animals to keep away from your compost heap, but if you do, use any kind of large container or buy a bin from a hardware store or garden centre.

Different types of composting bins

Add water to the scraps to create moisture, but don’t use too much as this will cause the pile to smell and become slimy. If that happens, don’t fret – just don’t add any more water until it dries out.

Use a garden fork to move the contents of the pile around every couple of weeks.

Your mixture should have a 50/50 ratio of items like leaves, sawdust and potting soil, versus the kitchen scraps.

It can take anywhere between one month to a year for the compost to form.

What can’t go into compost?

It’s best to leave out the food products listed below as they can lead to bad odours and attract unwanted insects, rodents and flies.

  • Meat bones
  • Fish bones
  • Dairy products
  • Fatty and greasy foods
  • Pet faeces
  • Coal
  • Metal or glass
  • Plastic
  • Infected plants

How to use compost

You’ll know your compost is ready when it looks like rich, deep, crumbly soil and nothing like the original items you added to your heap. It can take two weeks to a year to reach this stage of the composting process, depending on the size of your pile and the items you added to it.

Compost can be used as part of a potting soil mix. A 20 to 50% compost-soil blend is recommended for potted plants (mix four containers of soil with one container of compost).

For more recycling tips download our free Beginner’s Guide to Recycling.